Fact check: Did the Nigerian Army conduct airstrikes in Orlu, Imo state? This post is set to bring you the facts surrounding the #OrluAirAttack trend on the 18th of February, 2021.
Yesterday, social media was left buzzing with the #OrluAirAttack trend, as there were multiple claims of military bombardment in the South Eastern Nigerian city.
Many claimed that scores were left dead in Orlu, Imo state, after the Nigerian army bombarded the area with fighter jets, gun trucks and military equipment’s.
Some unverified videos also showed military helicopters hovering around the city, as the sounds of the video suggested multiple airstrikes. Below is one of the unverified videos;
There is currently air bombardments in Orlu Imo State by Nig soldiers. Many innocent people have been killed with air strikes.We also learnt that market places were affected.
— Emeka Gift (@EmekaGift) February 18, 2021
Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, also took to his Twitter page to speak against the alleged bombing and killing of civilians by the military. He wrote;
“The bombing & killing of innocent men, women & children in Orlu, Anambra state by soldiers of the Nig. Army is totally & completely unacceptable & I wholeheartedly condemn it. Shedding innocent blood is not the way forward & I call on the Nigerian Army to show restraint”
What really happened in Orlu, Imo state on the 18th of February 2021?
Investigations and quick checks have revealed that indeed there was military presence in Orlu, Imo state, there was no confirmation of airstrikes and indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians.
Spokesperson of the Army’s 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze in Owerri, Babatunde Zubairu, confirmed the deployment of aircraft and other military gadgets in a combined military and police operation in search of Eastern Security Network (ESN) camps and members.
ESN is a security arm of the separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Babatunde Zubairu said the operation was an offshoot of military intelligence, adding that locals were not being harassed.
An villager who introduced himself as Chief Thomas Ndudi, who also spoke with Vanguard News also corroborated the Army Spokesperson claims, as the source explained that the military targeted ESN camps but didn’t attack civilians. The source said;
“On Tuesday we saw over 30 trucks of military vehicle moving in their convoy moving in and out of Orlu in search of the members of the Eastern Security Network, they keep searching for them throughout Wednesday and on Thursday they discovered their camps and they started destroying them.
“The first day they even used a helicopter to hover around the forest locating the camps of the Eastern security network.
“The truth is that villages close to the forest are living in fears as the sound of guns have made them even running inside their houses and some of them abandoned their homes out of fear of being hit by a stray bullet.”